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Last Christmas I was in London, and Mark Haworth-Booth (Assitant Keeper, Department Of Prints, Drawing and Photography, Victoria and Albert Museum) had come round to get me to talk on the tape recorder about Bill Brandt's photographs - specifically those in the book Literary Britain. Many of the photographs are very striking - there's one of Top Withens in Yorkshire, which is a very dramatic photograph. I looked at this one for quite a while, and I started asking him some questions about it. I said:'There's a very bright light in the sky back there, but the grass in the foreground has also got a very bright light coming towards it here. He must have used a flash of some sort.' And he said:'Ah the sky is from another negative'.

Well, this horrified me, and I suggested this was Stalinist photography. It was a collage, really, but there was no evidence of it being a collage. There's nothing wrong with collage at all, but it should be quite clear that one thing is stuck on top of another. This photograph was not like that, and so people would assume that it had been made from a single image. When you can tell that the sky is from another day and yet you pretend that it's not, then I think you can talk about Stalinist photography. The reason that Stalinism works in photography is that we do believe what is there in front of us. When Trotsky is next to Lenin, and then he's taken out, the picture suggests that Trotsky was not there at all. Painting is not the same. You can paint a picture of Lenin making a speech and never put Trotsky there, as though you never noticed him. But the camera is not like this, and so you're back to the point that what you depict should be in front of you. So these techniques seem deceitful to me.

p48, Hockney on Art - Conversations With Paul Joyce.Little Brown, UK 2008.


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